Tropical Storm Irene Floods Norwich with Cash
FEMA sending $459,000.
FEMA will be sending Norwich $459,500 to compensate the town for the destruction of the town pool by Tropical Storm Irene. That money won't be spent on a new pool. Instead the money will be used to clean-up the old pool site, construct an addition to the town garage and purchase a new front end loader.
The story of how the FEMA money ended up in Norwich began on September 1, 2011 after the President declared a major disaster in Vermont in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene. The storm destroyed the town pool. FEMA would have paid 90 percent of the $567,000 cost to rebuild it. Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources, however, denied a permit to rebuild the dam in 2015.
With filing deadlines fast approaching, the town quickly drafted a plan for so-called "alternate projects". When destroyed infrastructure can't be rebuilt FEMA will fund alternate projects at the rate of 90 percent of the original 90 percent. Thus $459,500 was potentially available if Norwich could get the alternate projects approved. The town and Mary Anders from the Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security began working on alternate projects in February 2016. Norwich's original proposal asked for money for cleaning up the pool site, an addition to the town garage and rebuilding a box culvert on Rt.132. The box culvert was denied, so the town submitted a subsequent request for a bucket loader as something of an afterthought. Andes received a letter from FEMA just before Christmas saying all three alternate projects proposed by Norwich had been approved. The total cost for the three projects is $604,138 — $13,670 for the clean-up of the pool, $432,968 for the town garage and $157,500 for the loader. FEMA will pay $459,500. Norwich will make up the difference of $144,638.
(Editor's note: The original version of this post incorrectly calculated Norwich's cost at $143,670.)